Dr. Clement Apaak, Member of Parliament for Builsa South, in the Upper East Region, has called for establishment of mental healthcare facilities in the northern sector of the country to save lives of persons suffering from mental-related diseases.
According to him, the difficulty mental health patients have had go through before accessing mental healthcare in the northern sector is very appalling, and therefore needed a timely intervention from the central government, as well as the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, and all other stakeholders.
He said that would help in ensuring that more and modern mental health facilities are built in the north to enable mental patients to have easy access to mental healthcare services.
Dr. Apaak made the call while delivering a statement on the floor of parliament in Accra yesterday.
The Builsa South MP, who is also a former Presidential Staffer, stated that, despite the passage of the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846), which among others seeks to provide access to primary healthcare for mental patients and mental health facilities in the deprived parts of the country, that has not been met after five years on, since the law was passed.
“Mr. speaker, the top ten mental problems often found with patients on admission at psychiatric hospitals in Ghana, according to the 2003 government report, include schizophrenia, substance abuse, depression, hypomania, acute organic brain syndrome, manic depressive psychosis, schizo-affective psychosis, alcohol dependency syndrome, epilepsy and dementia.”
“This notwithstanding, Mr. Speaker, the irony of this matter is that, all the three mental health facilities are located in the southern sector, leaving the northern sector with no mental health hospital,” he pointed out.
“According to a recent research publication by ‘BasicNeeds-Ghana,’ a non-governmental organization, northern Ghana, with over 60 percent of its population classified under the poorest and mostly underserved in terms of mental health services, does not have a single psychiatric clinic or hospital, although it has a large number of mental patients,” he stated in Parliament.
Dr. Apaak argued that, currently, “there is only one psychiatrist stationed at the Tamale Teaching Hospital in the Northern Regional capital, taking care of patients scattered all over Northern Ghana which comprises the Upper West Region, Upper East Region and Northern Region, and only 34 out of 600 psychiatric nurses countrywide served the population, estimated at 4,177,798 (2010 PHC provisional results) says BasicNeeds-Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation providing support to mentally sick and epileptic patients.”
In his view, as a country, “we can’t live in a peaceful and freer country without addressing our mental health challenges. The bringing up of mental health facilities in the northern sector of the country and the modernization of all mental health facilities across the country is a must.”
He added that in a country where mental health facilities are in deplorable conditions, and, most invariably, “we view mental diseases as spiritual courses, the need to tackle mental health is now, than ever before.”
Dr. Apaak further stated that the importance of mental healthcare cannot be underestimated since its ramification affects all and sundry, noting that “challenges of mental health delivery like any other health challenge are varied and complicated.”
“Mr. Speaker, cases of mental-related suicide are on the rise in recent time. A case in point is the alleged suicide of a final year student of the University of Ghana, Jennifer Nyarko, who allegedly jumped from the fourth floor of her Akuafo Hall Annex A, Room 407 to her death on Wednesday 8th March, 2017.”
“This incidence follows a similar case of a student of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Ghana (KNUST), a couple of weeks ago, Adwoa Agyarka Anyimadu-Antwi, who also allegedly committed suicide.”
“Incidentally, Mr. Speaker, the victim was a daughter to our own colleague Honorable Member, may their souls rest in peace. Many other incidences of mental-related suicides, murders and other forms of violence have been reported in the past,” he observed.
Mr. Speaker, in Ghana, mental health issues are considered an inconsequential matter or a spiritual issue and therefore have been relegated to the background to the detriment of mental patients.”
“This situation paints a sad picture of mental health delivery in the northern sector and the earlier we tackled such situation to ensure a balance in terms of mental health facilities cannot be overemphasised.
“It is time we all came together as a country to help fight against mental health by providing the needed facilities and attention to this dangerous but risky canker which is swiftly increasing in the country, especially in the northern sector.“
He cautioned that the mental health should be viewed beyond political lens, for reports from experts indicate that, anybody can be at risk of one mental health condition or the other.
He therefore reiterated the call on government to as a matter of urgency release funding for the Mental Health Authority to carry out its activities and work to achieve its aims and objectives.
For him, bringing up of mental health facilities in the northern sector and the modernization of all mental health facilities across the country is a must and government must act with the ambition to reduce, if not end, the issues surrounding mental health.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba